Workers at M&V International Manufacturing’s garment factory in Kampong Chhnang province went on strike yesterday afternoon after talks between management and the Free Trade Union workers broke down.
FTU secretary-general Man Seng Hak said yesterday “the strike would continue until all demands are met and workers will set tyres aflame [today]”. The demands include the reinstatement of 20 employees allegedly fired last month for attempting to establish a branch of the union at the factory.
The FTU has said that workers at the factory began joining its union after two mass fainting incidents at the factory in August. The incidents prompted investigations by the labour ministry, the International Labour Organisation and global brand H&M, which buys apparel from the factory.
A spokesman for H&M told the Post yesterday that the company was “in contact with the FTU and M&V management”. He also said it was “finalising the results from [its] investigation” into August’s mass faintings.
FTU president Chea Mony said that 20 staff had been dismissed for trying to join his union last month.
M&V, however, has said the workers were on short-term contracts that had expired. Soum Sinath agreed, saying “the termination of the contracts between the company and workers was legal, and the factory had no work for them so it ended their contracts”.
He also described yesterday’s strike as illegal. “According to the law, if both sides fail to reach an agreement, they forward their dispute to the Arbitration Council and if the company does not follow the order of the Arbitration Council they have the right to strike,” he said.
FTU’s president at the M&V facility, Tem Silak, said she was among the 20 workers allegedly fired for attempting to establish the union at the factory. She said M&V had dismissed 290 workers in September. “We asked the company to allow them to return to work when work is available, but the company rejected this,” Tem Silak said.
The FTU said 3,000 of the factory’s 4,000 employees joined yesterday’s strike, while Soum Sinath put the number at 1,000.
M&V management declined to comment.